The Case for Slow Living

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Going nowhere fast in this beauty.

Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I’ve got a bit of a preoccupation with de-cluttering. I’ve written about it several times. You can read those posts here, here and here.

I recently wrote about how I’ve finally realised that de-cluttering just doesn’t work for me. I like to clear out ‘stuff’ but generally, I like to keep things that mean something to me. Thinking about de-cluttering and what motivated me to do it, has helped me understand what brings me satisfaction and contentedness.

I’ve deduced that some form of connection is what brings me that solid, heart-full feeling. That feeling where I couldn’t possibly be anywhere better. But it’s not just human connection that that does this. It’s connection with food, with art, books, with my home, my garden, and community. This is considered and thoughtful living; some would say mindful living – for me, it is slow living.  [Read more…]

Parenting and the Inevitability of Chaos – plus three tips that might help.

street-chalk-73583_1280Remember the days before kids? All your time was your own, your home was your own; you were the boss of you. I can’t imagine going back to those days before our children arrived, but there is one thing that I constantly struggle with. Disorder.

When we brought our first daughter home from hospital I followed all the advice that said ‘forget the housework, it will keep’. I also thought that the chaos this brought with it was temporary and once we got in to a ‘routine’ our house would go back to normal. In a way it did go back to normal – but the meaning of normal changed in a monumental way! [Read more…]

10 Ways to Banish the Overwhelm

I drew this when I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It soothed.

I drew this when I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It helped me escape and soothed my pain.

 

Never before have we lived such comfortable and affluent lives. Australia has the third highest average wealth in the world, behind Switzerland and Norway.  We make up 0.36% of the world’s adult population but account for 3.78% of the world’s top 1% of wealthiest people. (source)

But this comes at a cost, on many levels. The African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ still remains, yet the village has gone. Everyone is out working, or taking their kids to gymnastics, swimming, athletics, scouts, karate, football, cricket. Or volunteering in the class room, on the sports pitch or up at the school. Or preparing for dinner guests, kids parties family get togethers…it never ends.

There’s no doubt we have very full lives. Often too full. So full, in fact that many of us feel that our day to day lives have become an avalanche of events and we are like a pack of hounds chasing our tails in a frenzy of FOMO confusion. (FOMO, for those who don’t know, is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out). [Read more…]

Drowning in a sea of stuff, and other first world problems.

In the lead up to Christmas I felt overwhelmed, mostly by the state of my house. I felt that no matter how much I tidied up at the end of each day, I still felt overcrowded, suffocated by the clutter and that the walls were closing in on me. Part of that feeling was because there was little I could do about it at the time.

The month of December is so incredibly busy – before November was finished, every single weekend in December was booked up with events and social engagements. Not just the weekend either, week nights we getting busy to. I was feeling suffocated not just by the clutter, but also by the schedule. Why do we do this to ourselves and our families every year? (That is another story, for another day.)

In my despair I vowed that once Christmas was over I was going to declutter with a vengeance. I’ve written about decluttering before – you can read it here. My news feed on social media leading up to Christmas was saturated by articles about decluttering and how freeing the experience has been. I was keen to tap in to that, I needed a bit of ‘freeing’.

So I gave myself Boxing Day off and then started. My target was my wall unit, which was predominantly holding books. I love my books; make no mistake. I love the way books look on a shelf, I love to look at other people’s book shelves (I think what people read says a lot about a person). Certain books remind me of certain times in my life, so it’s fair to say that I’m pretty invested in my books. BUT I do think they were part of the problem, perhaps just the beginning. Why did on hold on to so many books, for so long? (Again, another story for another day!)

I sent, at a guess, around 150 books to the charity shop – along with bags and bags of baby toys, cot linen, bed linen, clothes from my wardrobe, my husbands wardrobe, my three children’s wardrobes. The whole boot of my car was full of things for the charity shop. When I looked in the boot of my car I was exasperated by the volume of all this ‘stuff’. For all the clearing out I’ve done, I still have that feeling of being crowded out. So I need to keep clearing, and be a bit more ruthless, so I can get back some breathing space.

My post-new year news feed was filled with articles about new years resolutions; how to make them and how to keep them. I felt like until I cleared the way, and made some space (both physical and psychological) I’d be frozen in to inaction regarding planning and executing plans for 2015.

One of my lovely friends was not so ‘stuck’ with her new years resolutions and one promise she made to herself was that she planned to consume less, of everything. Her decision not be drowned out by over-abundance really resonated with me, in light of my struggles with ‘stuff’ at home.

She borrowed Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine from the library, and set out creating some boundaries for her consumption. One of her boundaries was that if she wanted to buy something, she had to sell something first. On first hearing this I thought it was a bit ‘bah humbug’, but actually in light of my overflowing house, it makes a lot of sense.

Then, a few days later I read an article by Georgina Dent, on the Women’s Agenda – ‘Why I’m not shopping for six months’   and this sentence struck a chord with me: “I am looking at my resolution as a personal challenge that will save me money and time, and force me to be more creative.” Saving money, time and becoming more creative are things that I actively seek. Could the simple act of not shopping help me achieve them?

On pondering this article and my friend’s resolution I realised that all the ‘decluttering’ I was doing was of no consequence if I didn’t stop buying stuff. I’m not a big ‘shopper’ as such, but I can’t resist a bargain and I don’t need most of what I bring home. Also, for many of us, shopping, the act of purchasing, is habitual and often much more complex than seeing something that you like and buying it. It can be an escape for some, a comfort, filling a void or chasing an, often unobtainable, dream.

So I’m not making a public declaration per se, that I’m not shopping, but I don’t see the sense in expending so much energy in clearing out the crap from my living room, only to make space for more. I’m still struggling with the clear-out, let’s say it’s a work in progress, so if you have any tips on what works for you, please share them.

If decluttering has brought you that elusive ‘freeing’ feeling that I seek, I’d love to hear about it.

If decluttering has brought you that elusive ‘freeing’ feeling that I seek, I’d love to ut it.

Sometimes Quitting Can Be Glorious!

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(Image via Pinterest)

Life’s been a little bit hard of late. We all go through cycles where things get a bit tough and the cogs of life grind very slowly. That’s me at the moment, mainly due to my youngest daughter’s night time shenanigans; but that’s a whole other story.

So at the moment, I’ve been focusing on the basics. Just showing up, really. Making sure my kids show up (hopefully fed, clothed and clean). I also try for this (the clothed one is my priority – obviously). But when you’re sleep deprived for an extended period, anything but the basics is hugely taxing. It doesn’t help that when we returned from our trip I was energised, motivated and ready to go. With lots of plans and goals and six weeks in…well, life had other plans for me.

Fortunately, I recognise that this is just a blip. But there’s nothing like plans that fall by the wayside to leave your morale sagging a bit. I posted recently about the stress of meditation and how I berated myself for not establishing a regular practice.The same goes for all my other little projects. I see the pile of books that I have set aside for research, untouched. A list of ideas that I haven’t been able to develop, which keep popping up each time I open my notebook. Even leisure activities, a pile of magazines unread, webpages tagged and never revisited.

So this week, when I read Sarah Kathleen Peck’s article ‘Why Quitting is ok’ –  I felt vindicated and absolutely light-footed because of it. The article got me thinking about success and failure, but also the cycles that play out in our lives. A full life is a fluid life that weaves in and out of different phases; both good and bad. This is an honest life, lived well. But to berate ones self for this fluidity can be fool-hardy. To be restricted by the success/failure binary is not helpful to anyone, least of all our lovely selves.

So after reading Peck’s article on quitting, I took it one step further and decided that I don’t even need to say ‘I’m quitting’. I’ll just quietly move on if the peaks and troughs of life require it, and when those peaks and troughs permit, I’ll come back to what ever it is I’ve put on pause. That way, there is no pre-determined outcome. I can go back when I feel like it, if I don’t ever feel like going back to said activity, project, goal then so be it. It has served it’s purpose in my life.

Coming back to Arianna Huffington, (as I tend to do) she explained in Thrive that abandoning learning German, learning to ski, or other such extra-curricular activities was freeing to her. Striking it off her agenda meant she could walk away and move on. So finding your own way to let go (including letting go of the angst that comes with letting go) is a significant way to make your every day life a little bit easier, and quite a bit happier.

Lets face it, sometimes life can get hard; just showing up is hard. So letting go of the peripherals that make it hard is just one step towards making it easier.

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